Business, Design

Three steps to good service design

February 18, 2016

Read time 3 min

Service design is on everyone’s lips, but what is it all about? Our experts Marjo Mansén and Karri-Pekka Laakso listed three steps that add up to quality service design.

1. Good service design solves the right problem.

Challenges need to be addressed on the right level. Solving the problem as a whole should be at the heart of service design.

If the focus is not on improving the operation of the company as a whole, the new service may make things better only from a very narrow perspective. In the worst case scenario, it can increase costs and exacerbate the problem considerably.

Let’s look at an example. Company X wanted to improve the handling of travel expenses, because the old way was very laborious for the finance department. The company decided to take into use a new travel expense system.

The decision to acquire the new system was made by the finance department, which benefited from the change: they started to receive travel expense reports that required very little work. Thus the goal was achieved from the finance department’s point of view, without taking into consideration the multiplier effects on the whole company level.

However, the situation deteriorated for the rest of the company. Suddenly every employee who made business trips had to become an expert in writing travel expense reports. They needed training to use the new system and to understand the underlying principles. Filling travel expense reports turned out to be a disproportionately time-consuming task for infrequent travelers.

2. Put the problem first, not the tools.

A good solution often involves improving IT, but IT solutions should not have any intrinsic value nor should they form an unquestioned basis for design. It may be more important to develop the work processes or the products of the company, for example.

One example comes from the city of Espoo in Finland. Processing of applications took too much time, and the solution was found by simply reorganizing the work. Previously the applications had been processed in the order of arrival, but now the simple cases were quickly handled first before moving on to the demanding applications.

The new working method decreased the average waiting time significantly and gave the employees more time to handle the demanding cases.

3. Diverse teams come up with cost-effective and realizable ideas.

Service design should be carried out by a team of professionals from different fields of expertise. The team can be composed of a concept designer, a data analyst, a user interface designer, a graphic designer, a software developer, a marketing expert, etc. When they genuinely work together towards a common goal, they can achieve something new and outstanding.

An idea can be great in theory, but if it is too expensive or time-consuming to implement, it will eventually be abandoned or the investment will not pay itself back. However, with the cooperation of a diverse team the services can be iterated to a point where they are both a genuine help for the customer and worth their cost.

Do you want more information about the possibilities of service design?

Joonas Makkonen, CEO of Reaktor North America
Phone: +1 (917) 833 2994


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